(COMMON DREAMS) Jake Johnson, August 15, 2018 — Taking aim at the heart of America’s toxic economic status quo—which has over the past several decades produced soaring corporate profits and CEO pay while keeping workers’ wages stagnant—Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would “give workers a stronger voice” in the decision-making of major businesses and put an end to corporations’ single-minded commitment to maximizing shareholder value at the expense of employees.
“There’s a fundamental problem with our economy. For decades, American workers have helped create record corporate profits but have seen their wages hardly budge.”
—Sen. Elizabeth Warren“Because the wealthiest 10 percent of U.S. households own 84 percent of American-held shares, the obsession with maximizing shareholder returns effectively means America’s biggest companies have dedicated themselves to making the rich even richer,” Warren noted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed outlining her new measure. “For the past 30 years we have put the American stamp of approval on giant corporations, even as they have ignored the interests of all but a tiny slice of Americans. We should insist on a new deal.”
Tracing what she terms the “shareholder value maximization” ideology to the work of influential right-wing economist Milton Friedman—who argued that corporations have a “social responsibility” to put profits ahead of all other objectives, including public health, worker safety, and environmental protection—Warren argues that corporate America’s unwavering prioritization of shareholder returns has produced a system in which “workers aren’t getting what they’ve earned.”